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Ask Coach Jen K. Your Own Question

Coach Jen K.
Coach Jen K., LMSW, CPC
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 1745
Experience:  Licensed Master Social Worker. Certified Coach Mom of Twins.
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We have a 13 year old son whom we are home schooling. we are

Resolved Question:

We have a 13 year old son whom we are home schooling. we are having severe challenges to get him to do his school work. Both my wife and I are there to help him and we do the online lessons with him. He's smart and when we get him as far to sit and work, he comprehends the work fairly easily, though it is hard to keep him focused for any extended period. Most of the time though, he is simply refusing to work. We cant physically punish him at this age, and revoking his privileges, or promising rewards, is not working either. We've tried our best to explain the consequences of not having an education, but to no avail. Due to specific circumstances (amongst others our current location), reverting back to a normal school is not currently possible. I am desperate to help him, but at my wits end. Any advice on how to convince him to cooperate?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  Coach Jen K. replied 2 years ago.

CoachJenK :

Hi. Welcome. I am a Licensed Master Social Worker with more than 20 years experience working with individuals and families. I am also a mom of Twins.

CoachJenK :

sounds like a tough spot to be in with him. do you see this difficutly concentrating on other areas or just a lack of motivation for school work

Customer:

he seems to be able to concentrate well when it comes to xbox. i think the block is related to school work more than anything else.

CoachJenK :

ok so rather than you thinking it could be some type of attention deficit disorder it seems more to be "typical" adolescent behavior?

CoachJenK :

if he loves the xbox has that worked in terms of motivating him? maybe we make it less about losing privileges and more about earning them.

Customer:

i honestly suspect so. i'm not ruling out medical causes though

CoachJenK :

Are you willing to have him evaluated by a child psychologist or psychiatrist?

Customer:

yes xbox have been tried as motivator and as punishment. but this did not work well either. he promises the world to get privileges, but does not hesitate to break the promise. as he does not have friends in the classic sense of the word, i do not want to take his online friends away as well. i know its a tough balance to keep.

Customer:

yes, we will do whatever it takes to help him, but even getting him to go will be a challenge.

Customer:

feeling like a complete failure as parent at this stage

CoachJenK :

yes it is a tough balance....lets look at the rewards for a minute and then we can look at getting him help.

CoachJenK :

I know you are struggling but you are not a failure at all...as parents we all struggle and go through so many things and it often takes a lot of trial and error to find the right balance.

CoachJenK :

and a good parent reaches out for help as you are doing, so lets take away that judgment of yourself

CoachJenK :

you say he promises the world but then breaks his promise...what do you do when that happens?

CoachJenK :

we may need to get very concrete here with him so there is no wiggle room.

Customer:

some additional info: he has been having problems with enuresis (not sure about the spelling) since he was young. been to multiple drs for help, but at 13 still a regular problem. No nedical advise or medication has helped. He sleeps very deeply, and simply does not seem to be woken by his body when required. not sure if this could be related

CoachJenK :

I think that it can all be a part of the same thing in terms of motivation and desire.

Customer:

agreed about the concrete. have revoked all priviledges for weeks on end, but this simply makes him extremely agressive

CoachJenK :

I know there are techniques that people use to work with this issue such as a bell.

CoachJenK :

yes because he is trying to wear you down.

Customer:

as in pavlov?

Customer:

he is succeeding in the attempt

CoachJenK :

I think weeks on end may be too much and we can make it concrete and less open ended with weeks on end.

CoachJenK :

You can ask your doctor about it, but I believe a bell goes off if he begins to urinate which wakes him from that deep sleep.

CoachJenK :

so lets really break this down.

CoachJenK :

There is school work that needs to be achieved that day....

CoachJenK :

before he gets the xbox he must achieve what is required. when he does complete it he gets the x box.

CoachJenK :

so it is a day to day thing and a reward that is earned.

CoachJenK :

each new day it begins again.

CoachJenK :

so this way it is concrete and not weeks on end.

CoachJenK :

and each day he gets the chance again and it is HIS choice about earning it.

Customer:

ok

CoachJenK :

does that sound any different from what you have been doing?

CoachJenK :

he may get aggressive because he doesnt feel in control of any of it and he needs to have some

Customer:

in the past revoking things such as xbox and phone resulted in aggresive behaviour. he coudl for example damage things in the house.

Customer:

agreed, the aggression could stem from feeling out of control. which is why i do not want to take all controll from him.

CoachJenK :

well we are not revoking things...we are earning it...and he controls that.

CoachJenK :

but this aggressive behavior needs to be looked at and hearing it I am suggesting that an evaluation take place.

CoachJenK :

If there is something deeper going on he might have difficulty controlling these aggressive impulses.

Customer:

what kind of evaluation?

CoachJenK :

and yes it will be hard to get him to go, but remember you are the parent and you set the boundaries here.

CoachJenK :

I would suggest taking him to a Psychologist

CoachJenK :

who can look at what may be going on for him in addition to "typical" adolescent behavior.

CoachJenK :

during this time they are trying to find independence and do whatever they can to assert themselves.

CoachJenK :

But at the same time they still need rules and boundaries and although it may be a struggle they in the end will do better with it.

CoachJenK :

There is also a wonderful book on adolescent boys. http://www.amazon.com/Boys-Adrift-Epidemic-Unmotivated-Underachieving/dp/0465072100/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1339604406&sr=8-2&keywords=parenting+adolescent+boys

Customer:

agreed. i realize he is becoming a man and pushing boundaries is part of the process. just dont know what to do when he pushes this much. but will try to find a good psychologist. thanks for the book link

CoachJenK :

And it is also crucial for you to take some of this pressure off yourself in thinking you are failing...you are not.

CoachJenK :

he pushes this much because he may see there has been wiggle room and the harder he pushes the more he wears everyone down.

CoachJenK :

set the boundary let him know in advance what they are and how he has control over the choices within it

CoachJenK :

and stick with it!!!!

CoachJenK :

if he is aggressive he needs to be safe and others safe too and you can also let him know that if he continues to express himself in this way and you dont feel safe that the police will be called to keep him and everyone else safe.

Customer:

have resorted to this once, when he locked himself in his room. the threat i mean. felt awful afterwards for doing this. made sure afterwards that he does not have a key to his room.

CoachJenK :

yes it is an awful feeling but keep in mind that you are doing it for his safety and the safety of all those around him. As you know as parents we have to make some very painful decisions.

CoachJenK :

I think he is able to sense that you will weaken and does what he can to wear you down.

CoachJenK :

you could benefit from the support again as I think when you feel bad, he senses it and can see that he can really work you.

Customer:

will follow your advice. thank you. he's a great child. usually gentle personality, loves animals, clever. jsut want to help him become successful. yes, the worst part is to keep positive. need to be able to talk and hear an external opinion. these challenges puts severe strains on the marriage, which of course tends to make the situation even worse. and gives my son the opportunity to divide and conquer

CoachJenK :

exactly about the divide and conquer and he knows where he can get in...so be strong....be clear with him and let him have the choice within it. I am glad to support you. Keep in touch with me and let me know how you are. You can request me anytime whenever you need support.

CoachJenK :

my goal is to provide you with great service and if I havent done that please let me know.

CoachJenK :

If I have, then please when asked to rate our time together indicate great service was provided.

Customer:

will do. my first time. if i want to request you specifically, how do i go aout it?

CoachJenK :

dont knock yourself as a parent...you are doing great.

Customer:

thanks. your advice has been great.

CoachJenK :

my pleasure.

CoachJenK :

I am here anytime you need more support.

CoachJenK :

once you finish rating our time together you will have a transcript of this chat in your email.

CoachJenK :

Can I provide anymore support to you at this time?

Customer:

no thanks, XXXXX XXXXX complete the rating, but it didnt accept. will try again.

Coach Jen K., LMSW, CPC
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 1745
Experience: Licensed Master Social Worker. Certified Coach Mom of Twins.
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